Who are the Two Billion Strong? Meet the Muslims Speaking Up for Climate Action

Many Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Niger and Sudan are among the most impacted by climate change, despite contributing the least to global emissions historically – it’s time for Muslims to join the conversation.

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Many Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Niger and Sudan are among the most impacted by climate change, despite contributing the least to global emissions historically – it’s time for Muslims to join the conversation.

Many Muslim-majority countries such as Afghanistan, Niger and Sudan are among the most impacted by climate change, despite contributing the least to global emissions historically. Others such as Indonesia and the Gulf states are both impacted by extreme climate events and have economies centred around environmentally damaging activities such as fossil fuel production or deforestation. In the Global North, minorities, including Muslim communities, are among the most impacted by environmental harms such as air pollution.

Despite being at the frontline of climate crises, Muslims are underrepresented in mainstream climate movements, and even though there is a strong connection between Islam and the environment, climate change is often ignored as a topic of importance in our own communities. 

The Two Billion Strong campaign aims to bridge the gaps by increasing conversations within our communities, providing a platform and opportunities for those involved in climate action to connect and raise awareness of their work in the climate movement.

Nazia Sultana is the founder of Sustainably Muslim, a platform that inspires Muslims to serve the environment and their community through education and social action, and has been working on the campaign’s launch. She said:

“Muslims make up a quarter of the population on the planet. Climate change disproportionately impacts us, but the world isn’t listening. The Two Billion Strong campaign is amplifying our voices to make sure we’re heard by those in power and allowed to be part of the change. Our group of influencers, activists and environmental experts are working hard to increase awareness and conversations around climate change within the community. Our end goal is a world where Muslims are fundamental in ending the climate crisis.”

Muslim Voices for Climate Action

The launch of the project has brought together a collective of UK-based Muslim activists and influencers to encourage conversations around climate change with their online communities, as well as holding a panel and networking event in London. The event ‘Muslim Voices for Climate Action’ is being hosted by Muslim professionals network Emerald.

The conversation will be chaired by BBC broadcaster Qasa Alom. As well as presenting features on climate issues in the UK and Europe, Qasa has said that his passion for environmental conservation and sustainability comes from his Bangladeshi heritage. He has explored the impact of climate change on Bangladesh through film and journalism.

On the panel will be Sarah Mohammad, a member of the Green Deen Tribe, which was founded by Rabiah Mali as a response to the need to heal the wounds of separation and lack of access to nature for Muslim Women, which is all too often rooted in colonisation, racism, other socioeconomic factors and radicalised Islamophobia. 

Also joining the discussion will be sustainability activist Hashem Abdi. Originally from Ontario, Hashem is passionate about community organising and faith-based climate action. Hashem worked with EnviroMuslims to make Canadian mosques more green. Recently, he attended COP27 and became involved in multiple conversations related to global efforts around climate activism and climate disclosure.

Environmental educator Zunaira Malik will be rounding off the panel with her insights in working to inspire and empower young people from diverse backgrounds to become the next generation of nature conservationists. She is currently pursuing masters study in Land & Ecological Restoration at the Eden Project, a site that houses one of the biggest indoor rainforests in the world.

Community Activists

Muslims are active in many parts of public life in the UK, from fighting racism and organising for better outcomes for our local communities, to political advocacy, journalism, and entrepreneurship. The Two Billion Strong campaign wants to harness the collective power we’ve shown we hold, to drive conversations about the ways climate change impacts us, and how we can make a difference in the fight against it. Our activists are young Muslims using their skills to help make change in their communities, and connecting their passions with the climate crisis.

Diana Hysenaj is an activist and campaigner working to tackle fuel poverty and the increasing costs of living crisis in the UK through coordinated community action, as well as campaigning to end global poverty and preventable diseases. She is currently studying Politics and International Relations at University and is a global mentor for iamthecode, helping to tackle the current global STEM skills shortage in marginalised communities.

With an academic background in Theology and Politics, Amirah Iqbal is working with EcoIslam/ The Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences (IFEES) as a climate activist to help raise awareness about the importance of environmentalism within Islam. IFEES is a UK based charity dedicated to the maintenance of the Earth as a healthy habitat for all living beings.

Syed Jazib Ali is a UK-based Documentarian hailing from the lower Himalayan region of Kashmir. He has a sharp eye for human interest stories and is keen on global advocacy projects that help bring inclusive sustainability, societal equality and fair human rights.

Mohammed Nasif is an analyst for InfluenceMap, an Independent UK based think-tank which provides data driven analysis on how business and finance are impacting climate change policy. Prior to this role, he studied Physics at Queen Mary, University of London. He has a keen interest in the intersection between science, policy, and data, and how the three can be utilised together to tackle the climate crisis.

Bilal Hussain is an outdoor enthusiast. Time spent exploring the outdoors has given him a renewed appreciation for nature and wildlife. He’s also keen on doing his bit for the community, whether that’s taking part in local litter picks, or volunteering with organisations including the Islamic Society of Britain and the Ramadan Tent Project.

Zainab Mahmood is Green Fashion Editor of It’s Freezing in LA! magazine and has written for award-winning publications like gal-dem and The Guardian on the intersections between fashion, faith, climate and capitalism. She uses her social media platforms to share simple actions for young people to tackle climate change.

Zahrah Vawda is a writer, media-maker and visual storyteller exploring nature and human connections. Her work sets out to explore local environments, challenge eco-stereotypes and highlight everyday nature. The deep-rooted relationships between life and earth are what fascinate her every day. Through this, she’s worked on a range of different projects across the creative and environmental sectors with some recent examples including facilitating community learning workshops on climate change, training young people in wildlife journalism, and working with organisations to connect deeper with their local communities.

Bridging the Conversation Gap

While the Two Billion Strong campaign provides a platform for young Muslims interested or involved in climate action, we also want to reach the wider community, many of whom might not consider climate change to be the pressing issue that it is. To achieve this, we’ve partnered with influential Muslims who have put their own spin on the message to encourage their followers to think about how climate change affects them in ways they may not have thought about.

Trailblazing actor and poet Ashley Belal Chin has used his way with words to craft a lyrical message encouraging his followers to think about how they are protecting the planet. Mariah Idrissi, one of the first hijabi models in mainstream UK fashion, spoke about the impacts of climate change that she had witnessed during her humanitarian work. Ilhan Abdi, who is well known for her delicious recipes, created a recipe using leftovers and encouraged her followers to think about the impact of food waste on the environment. The collective Muslim Hikers has been encouraging their members to make the connection between exercise and the environment.

Through this campaign involving many different members of our community, we hope more Muslims feel empowered and inspired to take part in climate action, and recognise the important role they play in challenging climate injustice. Having conversations with another is the start to creating real change in our communities.

To join the conversation, tune in to our panel ‘Muslim Voices for Climate Action’ tonight, Wednesday, Feb 15, at 6pm on Instagram Live.